News 2015

News about the arts, culture and heritage in 2015

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29th October 2015

Heritage panels tell history of Leicester’s Lanes

THE latest in a series of new heritage information panels are bringing to life the fascinating history of Leicester’s historic Lanes.

The panels tell visitors the stories of two landmark sites within The Lanes, including The Globe pub and Silver Street.

They are being installed this week as the latest in a city-wide series of heritage panels shedding light on the history of the city from Roman times to the modern era.

Serving beer since about 1720, The Globe is one of the oldest pubs in Leicester. Its ales were originally brewed with spring water from a well beneath the pub, and it was a popular inn with local knitwear workers in the 1800s.

Businessman Nathaniel Corah, founder of the hugely-successful Corah hosiery firm, started his business buying stocking-makers goods from the pub and selling them at a profit in Birmingham.

The pub’s name is reputed to come from the glass globes filled with water which framework knitters often hung in the windows to spread the amount of natural light. The new information panel will be placed outside the historic pub.

Neighbouring Silver Street, on whose corner The Globe stands, is one of the city’s oldest streets, and follows the route of the original Roman road from the town’s west gate.

Its name comes from the silver goods which were once made and repaired there, but its former uses were also reflected in the street’s earlier names, which included Sheep Street after its sheep market, and Hot Street after its bakery.

Silver Street was also once home to the Royal Opera House theatre, which was replaced in the 1960s by Malcolm Arcade, and the Il Rondo Ballroom, a dance hall at the site of a present day restaurant.

The panel is being placed outside Malcolm Arcade.

During the summer, a panel was also installed telling the story of the elegant and imposing former Natwest Bank building in Greyfriars, which was originally established as Pares’s Bank in 1900.

It was built on part of the garden of Greyfriars House, which itself was within the grounds of the former Greyfriars Friary, in which King Richard III was buried.

The bank changed hands and became a branch of Natwest until its closure in the 1990s.

[Source: Leicester City Council]

22nd September 2015

Golden Mile Gets Artworks

NEW banners designed by a local artist are being installed on lamp-posts along the Golden Mile.

The banners will help mark out the Belgrave Road area to both residents and visitors as a distinctive shopping and leisure destination.

The city council commissioned the banner designs – which were created by local artist Ashok Mistry – in consultation with the Belgrave Business Association and the local community.

There are five designs, all inspired by goods and services available along the Golden Mile, on the themes of men’s and women’s clothing, food, sweets and gold jewellery.

Ashok said: “Having grown up in Belgrave, this project was extremely enjoyable. Friends who aren’t familiar with Leicester have always commented on the energy of Belgrave. Visitors feel like they are in a whirlwind of activity, and it is this energy that I attempted to capture though the compositions.”

The banners will be installed in 50 locations along the Golden Mile.

18th August 2015

More history panels

MORE of the city’s popular heritage interpretation panels are being installed this month.

The panels, which celebrate Leicester’s 2,000 years of history, feature information on key buildings and well-known individuals associated with Leicester.

The latest installations include a series of panels called ‘Modern Leicester’, which focus on buildings of interest in the city since 1918. These include the former Palais de Dance and Lewis’s Tower, both in Humberstone Gate, and the former Leicester City Bus Depot, in the Cultural Quarter.

The Palais de Dance was built in 1927, and quickly became established as an upmarket dance venue complete with fountain, ornate plasterwork and crystal chandeliers. For the best part of 85 years, this building was the home of dance in Leicester.

It saw many name changes in more recent years ­– including The Studio, Zoots and Sosho – but to many local people, it will remain the place where they met their future husband or wife.

Lewis’s Tower has remained a popular landmark in the city, even after the demise of the department store below that gave it its name. The art deco tower – sometimes likened to the bridge of an ocean liner – conjures up fond memories of the store, which was well known for its Christmas grotto and decorations.

11th June 2015

BHM Radio2Funky

Volunteers Wanted!

Are you aged 14-25 and interested in a career in radio, journalism, arts or history?

Help us research and / or present the history of Black music, arts, culture and society in Leicester from the last 67 years.

Expenses paid! Boost your skills, knowledge and CV!

Training for volunteers will take place August–October 2015, Granby Street, Leicester.

This will include interview, research, presenting, media and broadcasting techniques, as well as working towards an Arts Award accreditation.

We are also looking for young people to help us manage the project.

Radio shows will be aired as part of Black History Month, October 2015.

Interested? Please contact Vijay Mistry info@2funkyarts.co.uk

Info: www.2funkyarts.co.uk

30th May

Popular music

Friday (June 5) is BBC Music Day. Each presenter at BBC Radio Leicester is championing a local band or artist, and there will be live performances throughout the day.

Down by the river side

BBC Radio Leicester will be at the Riverside Festival, where their gardening expert Ady Dayman will have “grown your own” sessions, helping people plant sunflowers and veg. Music in Leicester magazine will be covering the event.

The two-day festival takes place on the Mile Straight of the River Soar and on neighbouring Bede Park, Western Boulevard and Castle Gardens on Saturday, June 6, and Sunday, June 7.

The event is the city’s biggest free festival, combining live entertainment, activities for all ages and a dazzling array of arts and crafts and community stalls, demonstrations and attractions.
As part of the musical programme, the very best of local bands and musicians will perform on the main stage, including the winners of the city’s annual Original Bands Showcase event. The winners of the grand final held at The Musician Pub in May were Leicester band Dig Lazarus and runners up Not My Good Arm.

Both band will be playing on Saturday, June 6, at the festival, along with headliners The Brandy Thieves and The Strangler Figs. There will also be a beer tent with an acoustic stage on both days featuring local performers.
The festival finale on Sunday will be pop and soul band Sugabeat.

Tribute to great bands

A full report has been published on the Glastonbudget Music Festival on our sister magazine. The festival was held in Wymeswold 22nd – 24th May.

Read this report on Glastonbudget

Find out more about popular music in Leicester from our sister magazine.

Bid to honour Attenborough

CITY Mayor Peter Soulsby has joined those who are calling for one of Britain’s greatest cultural icons – and one of Leicester’s most famous adopted sons – to be chosen to appear on the back of the new £20 note.

Actor and director Lord Attenborough is already one of the bookmakers’ favourites for the spot, after the Bank of England invited members of the public to help them find a new face to replace the Scottish economist Adam Smith on the back of the note.

People are being asked to nominate Britons of historic significance who best represent the visual arts, with architects, photographers, filmmakers, sculptors, actors, artists and fashion designers all expected to feature on the long-list.

But the City Mayor thinks that the man whose work brought pleasure to so many, and whose generous support of the arts continues in Leicester to this day, deserves to be considered.

“Richard Attenborough was a brilliant director and a brilliant actor, and he passionately believed in making the arts accessible to everyone – particularly people with disabilities,” he said.

Arty Mayor

LEICESTER’S new Lord Mayor has taken on the chains of office at a ceremony in the city’s Town Hall. Cllr Ted Cassidy MBE, who has been a city councillor for 15 years, has been handed the role from outgoing Lord Mayor Councillor John Thomas, at a ceremony on Thursday, May 21. The new Lord Mayor (not to be confused with the Mayor of Leicester) has long been a supporter of music and the arts in the city.

Meanwhile the City Mayor (Peter Soulsby) has announced that Cllr Piara Singh Clair continues in his role, as Assistant Mayor, covering culture, heritage, sport and leisure.

Hall of Food

IT’S been twelve months since the new food hall at Leicester Market opened its doors to the public – and the bright and airy new building is proving to be a hit with both traders and shoppers.

Since it opened in May last year, market staff estimate that more than 500,000 people have popped in to buy meat, fish, cheese and other fresh produce.

See our article on the opening of the Food Hall.

TV Comedian heading for Leicester

Comedian Reginald D Hunter will be appearing at the De Montfort Hall on 17th June as part of his UK tour.  Television views have seen him on shows such as Have I Got News for You, Mock the Week and Live at The Apollo. Arts in Leicester magazine will be publishing an interview with Reginald soon.

29th April

Richard lll Appeal meets its £2.5 m Target

Leicester Cathedral is delighted to announce today that the appeal to cover its share of the costs of the reinterment of King Richard III is now officially closed, having met its target in full.

The appeal, for a total of £2.54m, was launched in May last year, immediately following the successful outcome of the judicial review, confirming that the plans for reinterment in the cathedral could go ahead.    The funds have been raised from a variety of places, including grant-giving bodies and trusts, including the Richard III Society;  individual donors, local businesses, and a community appeal to the people of Leicester and Leicestershire.     The names of all donors, whatever the size of their gift, have already been published on the Cathedral’s Appeal website, and are soon to be inscribed in a Book of Recognition that will be on display in the cathedral and St Martins House.

Some two-thirds of the money raised – £1.6m – has been spent on the tomb and the alterations to the cathedral to create the new space towards the east end where it sits, between the central sanctuary and the newly created Chapel of Christ the King.  Other expenditure is on the interpretation boards and displays, along with the creation of new part-time posts of education officer and volunteer manager for the cathedral as we move into the immediate new future, with greatly increased visitor numbers.  A grant from the diocese of Leicester of £500,000 got the appeal off to a flying start and this has more than covered the administrative costs of the project, such as core staff salaries and fundraising costs.

Call to Artists

As part of City Festival 2015, 21st – 31st August 2015.
A project put together by Silver Vine Arts

All ARTISTS OPEN CALL All ARTISTS OPEN CALL

Silver Vine Arts invites artwork to be submitted to the second yearly Summer Art Trail 2015.

This exhibition gives practicing artists the opportunity to exhibit in LCB Depot and KN Arts in Leicester’s Cultural Quarter as part of City Festival.

Also part of Summer Art Trail are Attenborough Arts (formally Embrace Arts) , Graff HQ, Soft Touch Arts, Leicester Print Workshop, Cank Street Gallery, Unit 1 at The Great Central Gallery, Leicester LO-Fi Photography, The Queen of Bradgate, My Workshop, The Western and  The Cube Gallery at Phoenix Cinema

We welcome submissions of all artistic mediums such as painting, drawing, collage, sculpture, film, sound, projection, live art and design of the highest quality.

Submissions close 1st July

Find out more from the Summer Arts Trail website.

Training for Young Aspiring Arts Managers

2Funky Arts is running a FREE training course for people aged 16+ who are interested in a career in the arts, events and/ or festivals. The 7 week course will run on Thursdays, 6-8pm, from 30 April to 25 June 2015, at SEED Creativity Hub (Humberstone Gate, Leicester). It will include sessions, run by experts and guest speakers, on topics such as marketing, programming, photography, front of house and stewarding, as well as CV development.

It will also include work experience at UK’s Best Dance Crew at De Montfort Hall on Saturday 27 June.  The event will feature some of the most talented urban dance crews from across the UK and promises to be an evening of jaw-dropping routines.

Volunteers will gain valuable skills and experience that will give them an advantage in this competitive field of work. This programme, will be led by professional arts managers. Director of Seed Creativity, Dan Lamoon is a media production specialist and editor of From Dusk 2 Dawn online magazine. Vijay Mistry is Director of 2Funky Arts and a successful promoter of comedy, music and dance shows for established venues.  He has managed a variety of high profile shows, including The Real McCoy at De Montfort Hall and Leicester’s Best Dance Crew at Curve Theatre.

See the 2Funky Arts website

King’s prayer book on display

King Richard III's Book of Hours
King Richard III’s Book of Hours

A PRAYER book owned by King Richard III has gone on display at New Walk Museum.

Made of parchment and beautifully decorated, the Book of Hours was created in London in 1420, with handwritten prayers added for King Richard III around the time of his reign, from 1483-85.

It was loaned to the city for use in King Richard III’s reinterment ceremony at Leicester Cathedral last week, and is now on show at New Walk Museum. Read our article on the King’s reinterment.

The book is a collection of prayers to guide devotion throughout the day. It includes several additional hand-written prayers for Richard’s personal use, with his name attached. The date of the king’s birthday also appears, which is believed to have been written in by Richard himself.

One prayer reads, “Lord Jesus Christ, deign to free me, your servant King Richard, from every tribulation, sorrow and trouble in which I am placed…” As Richard’s personal prayer book, it is thought it may have been in his tent at the Battle of Bosworth.

It is known to have later belonged to Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII, before eventually being passed into the library of the Archbishop of Canterbury during the early 1600s.

King Richard’s Book of Hours has been loaned to Leicester by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev and Rt Hon Justin Welby and the Trustees of Lambeth Palace Library.

Liz Blyth, director of culture and neighbourhood services at Leicester City Council, said: “We’re very grateful to Lambeth Palace Library for loaning this fascinating book to us, to coincide with our commemorations of King Richard III. This will give visitors to Leicester a fantastic opportunity to view this unique object, in the impressive surroundings of New Walk Museum.”

Giles Mandelbrote, librarian of Lambeth Palace Library, said: “Richard III’s Book of Hours is one of the medieval treasures preserved in the collections of Lambeth Palace Library. We are delighted to lend it for this historic occasion and for the enjoyment of visitors to the New Walk Museum.”

The Very Revd David Monteith, Dean of Leicester said: “King Richard was clearly a devout Christian. The annotations show that this book was in regular use and it offers us an insight into King Richard as a man of prayer.”

The book will be on display at New Walk Museum until Sunday 28 June.

Other articles about the reinterment of King Richard III.

31 March

King Richard III’s Tomb open for public viewing

Leicester Cathedral has announced the times when the public can come and view King Richard III’s tomb this week

“King Richard III’s tomb is now a permanent feature in Leicester Cathedral. However, there are still a considerable number of visitors from all over the world in Leicester who we expect will want to take a last opportunity to see it before returning home,” said Liz Hudson, the Cathedral’s Director of Communications. “We anticipate a great deal of interest and suggest that people who live locally may find it easier to plan a visit to see the tomb at a slightly later date.”

Find out more about King Richard in Leicester.

21st March

King Richard in Leicester – things to see

A white rose on Bow bridge
A white rose on Bow bridge

Key points detailed on the funeral procession route.

20th March

Music for reinterment service composed

An anthem by York composer Dr Philip Moore will be sung at the service of Reinterment of King Richard III in Leicester Cathedral next Thursday, 26 March. Philip was Organist and Master of the Music at York Minster from 1983-2008 and is now Organist Emeritus of the Minster.  His setting of Psalm 150 ‘O praise God in his holiness’ is an adaptation of a much longer work written in 2007 for the Exultate Singers of Bristol.

He has reworked the piece for the Reinterment service by incorporating the medieval antiphon ‘Omnis spiritus’ (which would have accompanied the psalm in medieval liturgies) and adding parts for the same instruments as Master of the Queen’s Music Judith Weir has used in her arrangement of the National Anthem, which will be premiered at the same service.

Cathedral Director of Music Dr Christopher Ouvry-Johns said: “Finding the right setting of psalm 150 was one of the most difficult parts of planning the music for the Reinterment and I’m much indebted to Philip for the considerable work he’s put into revising the piece. This is possibly the most joyful and exuberant of all the psalms and while Christian belief in life after death means that there is rightly an element of hope in the service, it was important that this shouldn’t eclipse the solemn and dignified nature of the occasion.

While the lively rhythms of the main body of the piece conjure up images of celebration, even dancing, the inclusion of the antiphon ‘Omnis spiritus’ from the Bangor Pontifical (a 14th-century manuscript) at the start and the end of the piece put that celebratory atmosphere in an appropriate context. Indeed, what could be more appropriate for the 21st-century burial of a medieval monarch than a 21st-century composition incorporating medieval music?”

Philip Moore said “It is a great honour and privilege to have been asked to contribute to this unique and historic service, most especially because of my intimate association with York.   I was delighted when Dr Ouvry-Johns asked if he could see my setting of Psalm 150.

Although the adaptations I have made are considerable, I enjoyed revisiting the anthem and the chance to add parts for four horns was a refreshing challenge.  I am sad not to able to attend the service in person, but on my recent visit to a choir practice at Leicester Cathedral I was thrilled to see how well the choir was singing the work”.

[Source: Leicester Cathedral]

19th March

New medieval galleries open at Guildhall

LEICESTER’S medieval history has been brought to life in the fitting location of the city’s 600-year-old Guildhall.

Two new galleries have been created at the museum to house the city’s fine collection of medieval artefacts, thanks to a £69,000 grant from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Wolfson Foundation charity, and a £43,000 contribution from the city council. The permanent displays – which open to the public on Thursday – use digital technology and fascinating items from the collection to allow visitors to explore the streets of medieval Leicester.

The first of the new galleries looks at Leicester as a medieval market town and centre of trade, while the second gallery explores Leicester’s status as a religious centre.  An animated film provides an introduction to medieval Leicester, with a series of characters – based on real people from Leicester’s past – leading visitors on a journey through city life in the middle ages.

The new medieval galleries open to the public for the first time at 11am tomorrow (Thursday 19 March).

18th March

Solar eclipse echoes the fantastic astronomical events which took place during the time of Richard III

Historical astronomical data of the time of Richard III and the Battle of Bosworth examined by University of Leicester.

Richard III’s corpse could have been publicly displayed beneath a blood moon following his defeat at the Battle of Bosworth
A solar eclipse would have darkened the sky 529-years-ago today (MARCH 16) as Richard III’s wife Anne Neville died
Star charts showing the night sky on the eve of the Battle of Bosworth have been studied by University of Leicester photographer Colin Brooks.

This Friday’s solar eclipse has much relevance to Ricardians as it does for countless astronomers and stargazers across the globe.

Read the full story on King Richard in Leicester

Bones of the king are placed in coffin

The University of Leicester said, in a statement:

On Sunday 15th March, 2015 the coffining of the mortal remains of King Richard III took place in preparation for reinterment at Leicester Cathedral on 26th March.

The private occasion  took place in the Council Room – formerly a Chapel – of the University of Leicester. It was witnessed by a small number of representatives from the University and other key organisations, including the Cathedral, the City Council, the County Council, the Richard III Society, members of the University chaplaincy, an independent witness and relatives of King Richard III who donated their DNA as part of the identification process.

Following the completion of the University’s extensive programme of scientific analysis, the reinterment of all the mortal remains of Richard III, including samples, is considered to be a final act and there are no plans to reopen the tomb in the future.

In order to pack the bones into the lead-lined coffin, natural materials sourced from the British Isles which would have existed in the medieval period were used.  A combination of washed natural woollen fleece, wadding and unbleached linen were used for the layers of packing.  Linen bags, made by the pupils of the Richard III infant’s school in Leicester, were used for wrapping small bones and scientific samples.  The bones were laid out as if articulated in the lead inner casket. A rosary was placed in the coffin and the final layer was a piece of Irish linen embroidered by Mrs Elizabeth Nokes of the Richard III Society.  Once the lead inner casket was sealed, Michael Ibsen, a descendant of Richard III’s elder sister, Anne of York, fixed the lid of the outer coffin in position, which he made, of English oak, in his workshop.

17th March

Richard deserves a state funeral, claims Philippa Langley (BBC)

16th March

A LEICESTER performance venue is to be renamed in honour of the author Sue Townsend.

Upper Brown Street – formerly the Phoenix Arts Centre – is to be known as the Sue Townsend Theatre from tomorrow (Tuesday) as a tribute to the Leicester-born creator of Adrian Mole.

Sue Townsend – who died in April 2014 – began her literary career as the writer-in-residence at the old Phoenix and wrote her first play, Womberang, while she was there. The venue is now leased to Leicester College and used as a teaching venue for those studying the performing arts and music & sound technology.

City Mayor Peter Soulsby, who announced the city’s tribute to the author at her funeral service last year, will unveil a memorial plaque at the official opening tomorrow (Tuesday 17 March), when the new sign will be lit up for the first time.

See our review of Adrian Mole – the musical.

Archaeologists to be honoured

TWO archaeologists involved in uncovering some of Leicester’s most important historical finds are to be honoured jointly by the city’s Lord Mayor.

Dr Richard Buckley OBE and Dr Patrick Clay are both directors of the University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS) – the organisation responsible for the stunning discovery of King Richard III’s remains in 2012.

In addition to finding the Last Plantagenet king, they’ve carried out painstaking archaeological work throughout the city over the last 30 years, including discovering the lost St Peter’s Church at the site of the Highcross shopping centre.

Dr Buckley was the lead archaeologist on the dig in summer 2012 which discovered not only the grave of the last English king to die in battle, but also revealed for the first time the long-lost Grey Friars Church.

While he was heavily involved in the now world-famous dig, his co-director of ULAS Dr Clay ensured the archaeological services’ other projects kept running smoothly.

Both men are due to be given a joint Honoured Citizens Award by Leicester Lord Mayor, Cllr John Thomas, at the Town Hall on Wednesday, September 24, at 3.30pm.

The work of ULAS is brought together in the book Visions of Ancient Leicester, which tells the story of the city’s archaeological discoveries from Roman times to the Middle Ages.

Lord Mayor Cllr Thomas said: “This is a unique partnership and a contribution which should be jointly acknowledged. They have put Leicester on the map and continue to encourage and engage public fascination in the city’s rich past.

“While Richard Buckley recently received his OBE, it would be truly wonderful for them both to be acknowledged for their contributions to the city by presenting them with this Honoured Citizens Award.”

Dr Clay said: “We are honoured to receive this award particularly from Leicester – a city to which much of our work has been devoted.

“The discovery of King Richard III is the most exciting of our achievements and is a testament to the breadth of expertise in our team. The experience and skills developed over 30 years laid the groundwork for the discovery of the king.

“Through our excavations of Roman and medieval Leicester, the Hallaton Hoards, prehistoric sites – in addition to nationally important ancient monuments – the discoveries we have made, interrogated and interpreted and led to a complete change in the way the archaeological landscape of the East Midlands is viewed.”

Dr Buckley, who led on the dig at Grey Friars, added: “We are delighted that the work we have done over the past 30 years is being recognised in this way.

“The work of our unit helped the university to win the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education – the highest honour in the university system.

“We are very proud of the increased knowledge of the archaeology and history of the city that has come about through our excavations, and to have helped people to appreciate its rich heritage.

“To be recognised by the citizens of Leicester in this way is truly an honour.”

[Source: Leicester City Council, 18th September 2014]

See also:

News about the built environment

News about Dance and dancers

News for 2014

Richard III worth £45 million to Leicester Economy (BBC)

See our contents page for an alphabetical list of all articles

 

HistoryBoys2011

Monday 21st March 2011, CURVE

The History Boys

An education worth having

Karen McCandless reviews the History Boys by Alan Bennett

Alan Bennett’s masterpiece that is The History Boys made its Leicester debut to a packed and appreciative audience at the Curve on Monday night. The most well known of Bennett’s plays and probably the most critically acclaimed, I put this right at the top of my ‘do not miss’ list when the Curve unveiled its programme for the season ahead. And I was not disappointed. Just to recap, The History Boys is set in a school in Sheffield in the 1980s. It follows the fate of a group of boys who are studying for the Oxbridge entrance exams at the fictional Cutlers’ Grammar School.

The play also focuses on the teachers’ attempts to impart an education to the boys: Irwin (brought in specially to coach the boys), Mrs Lintott (straight-forward and factual) and Hector (charismatic and eccentric English teacher), while the headmaster is mostly interested in exam results and league tables.

The class portrait from the history boys 2015

One criticism sometimes leveled at this play is that Bennett puts too much of himself into it. While it may be true that the playwright’s views on the importance of education are apparent throughout, the issues actually tackled here are much more complicated than that. The characters are all fairly complex individuals, not so one-sided as to be either good or bad, nor loveable or easy to hate. Nor does Bennett particularly condemn or condone any of the behaviour or manner of teaching in his play. In a way, this is very much a coming of age drama, a transition between youth and adulthood, a glimpse into the sort of education Bennett himself enjoyed. He has previously likened himself to the character of Irwin, saying that is the kind of education he had at degree level, while a teacher similar to Mrs Lintott at school taught him at school. Hector is the only one who he has never been taught by and as such still remains something of a mystery.

The teachers have a meeting with the boys from the history boys 2015

Given the blaze of publicity that follows any production of The History Boys, directing a new stage version must be a daunting, but at the same time very exciting, prospect. It is certainly one the director Christopher Luscombe handles very well. The choice of set and the music that accompanied each of the fast-paced set changes all helped to set the scene. The backdrop was a simple classroom window, meaning that there was nothing to distract the audience from the action that was taking place centre stage. The revolving set gave the audience a multi-dimensional view of what was going on; it meant we looked at things from new angles all the time. The action, meanwhile, was anchored firmly in the 1980s, with both the music choices that accompanied each scene change and the dingy classroom chairs and tables.

Luscombe’s casting was a triumph. Ben Lambert was a perfect fit for Irwin, both in looks and character. With a smug and patronising air and emitting the feeling of ‘I’m better than you’ from every pore, he occupies the unenviable position of being the easiest character to dislike.

To his immense credit, he plays that part very well and it is only during the second act that he reveals a new dimension and lets us inside the young man’s mind. When he reveals the truth of his university history to Dakin and when we find out what will become of him in the future, we are firmly persuaded that this is actually a fairly likeable man. His antithesis Hector (Philip Franks) is an enthusiastic and slightly foppish character, a likeable yet slightly laughable man. Franks aptly portrays the innate sadness of his whole situation, and his scenes with Irwin when he discusses how much of a disappointment his life has turned out to be are truly moving. One of my favourite performances of the night came from Penelope Beaumont as Dorothy Lintott. Straight-laced and sensible, she gives real dimensions and depth to what could otherwise be just an also ran character. “A safe pair of hand is how they would describe me,” she says.

The class portrait
The class portrait

As for the schoolboys, Dakin (George Banks) was played with plenty of pomp and bravado, just as he should be. You could almost see the swagger in his walk. While for Christopher Keegan as Timms, a career in comedy surely awaits him. I for one was in stitches with his uncanny impersonation of a lady of the night. The stand our performance for me came from Posner (Rob Delaney).

He brilliantly portrayed the complex nature of his character; after all growing up a Jewish homosexual in the 1980s in Sheffield couldn’t have been easy. Despite that, Delaney manages to bring out the humour in the situation with his love for song and dance and his open but unrequited love for Dakin.

Performance wise, he sang, danced and acted brilliantly and with so much life the whole way through. A star in the making. The chemistry between all the teachers and the boys is magnificent. The camaraderie feels so real and the friendship and animosity between the teachers comes across really well. At times I felt like I wanted to jump out of my seat and get on stage and join them; they just seemed to be having so much fun! The delivery of dialogue was tight and well rehearsed, not a line out of place.

The whole production seemed like a well-oiled machine of epic proportions. Given how much I enjoyed this play, I was glad to see it clearly captivated the Leicester audience as well. It couldn’t have been more aptly demonstrated than at the end of the first act, when not a noise could be heard across the whole theatre. The moments of hilarity followed by moments of poignancy were dealt with brilliantly and were lapped up by and entranced and enthralled public. A simplistic set design, perfect music choice, comedy mixed with the tackling of important topics, superb acting and direction; this is how theatre should be.

(This review was originally published on Arts in Leicester in 2011.  It was re-published today (7th January 2015) as part of our archiving project.)

See also:

Music in 2014

Sculptors hold preview

The Sound of Music

Curve – shows in 2015

2014Music

2nd January 2015

Music in 2014

our review of the year

This page forms part of our archives

See what we thought of Leicester’s music scene last year in our article published on our sister website Music in Leicester. – That Was 2014

In Arts in Leicestershire we reported on a number of musical shows, including

The Sound of Music

Chicago

Water Babies

Blood Brothers

Rent – the musical

Art and Music in the time of Richard III

New Website Celebrates Leicester’s Black Music History

Music at Riverside Festival

Music featured in some of the festivals that took place this year, such as

Leicester Pride

Caribbean Carnival

See also:

Opera in Leicester (preview article)

Gershwin in Leicester